Thanksgiving Pt 3: Pumpkin


unmolded pumpkin flan

The next common staple of American Thanksgiving dinner is pumpkin. Most typically, in a simple (and simply delicious) pumpkin pie.

Of course, I have a bad habit of refusing to do the simple things, so instead of pie I made pumpkin flan.

I also made pumpkin raisin scones, to eat for brunch.

Methods & Materials

Pumpkin Flan (source)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Boiling water

  1. preheat oven to 300°F
  2. combine 1 cup sugar and water in a deep, heavy saucepan
  3. cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, brushing the sides of the pot with water
  4. boil, without stirring, until the sugar turns a deep copper-brown
  5. quickly (but carefully!!) pour the liquid caramel into a 10 inch pie plate, flan mold, or individual ramekins (i used six 4-ounce ramekins)
  6. combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, pumpkin puree, remaining (1/4 cup) sugar, eggs, cornstarch, spices, and vanilla in a blender or food processor
  7. blend until smooth and uniform
  8. strain custard and pour into mold(s)
  9. place mold(s) in a deep baking pan on top of a dish towel, pour in enough boiling water to reach at least half way up the side of the mold(s) (or as deep as the pan will allow) and bake until a knife inserted in the center pulls out clean (roughly 50-60 minutes)
  10. remove from the oven and let cool to roughly room temperature, then chill in the fridge for 24-72 hours*
  11. carefully unmold the flan onto a plate and serve

*(n.b.: you must let the flan sit for at least a day before serving it. if you attempt to unmold it too soon, the caramel at the bottom of the mold will still be solid and there will be no sauce on the custard (not to mention that the custard itself may simply not come out of the mold). after a day or two, the caramel begins to liquify and both (a) helps to unmold the flan naturally, and (b) creates the delicious caramel sauce that goes with the flan.)

cooking the sugar
cooking the sugar for the caramel

custard ingredients
ingredients for the custard. i don’t have a blender or food processor, so i beat it together in a stand mixer. i don’t recommend this, as you end up with small, discreet chunks of cream cheese rather than having it smoothly blended in.

ramekins with caramel
my ramekins, with the caramel in the bottom

the evil oven cooks custard with malice

apologies to chef laura (i don’t need to professionally garnish desserts i’m eating myself, for breakfast, in my pajamas, do i?)

Pumpkin Raisin Scones (from
2 cups AP (or cake) flour (roughly 260 grams)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (roughly 70 grams)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (roughly 113 grams or one stick)
1/2 cup raisins (roughly 70 grams)
1/2 cup buttermilk (note: as needed)
1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. preheat oven to 400°F
  2. in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  3. cut the butter into small pieces and cut into the flour mix as you would with biscuits or pie dough
  4. stir in the raisins
  5. in a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla
  6. add liquid to the dry ingredients, stirring just enough to bring it together into a loose dough (do not overmix!)
  7. knead gently four or five times and then pat into a circle roughly 1½ inches tall, 7 inches wide on a baking sheet
  8. slice into 8 separate pieces and slightly separate slices
  9. bake until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean (roughly 20 minutes
  10. let cool, ice if desired, and eat

scone dough
scone dough, separated, waiting to bake

baked and iced scones

Future Work

The flan was good, but it was substantially heavier than I expected it to be. I was hoping that it would be a light custard like regular flan, but tasting like pumpkin. It actually just ended up as little personal pumpkin pie servings (with tiny little blobs of cream chese) with caramel sauce. Tasty, but not what I had hoped for.

The scones were delicious, but I think they could have used more pumpkin.

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